"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

A Library in Your Pocket

January 7, 2010

There's a Whole Lot of Shaking Going On

About a month ago I started following QuakeInfo on Twitter and now I am basically obsessed with how many earthquakes there are every single day.  Macquarie Island region was hit by a 5.0 earthquake 11 minutes ago.

I never heard of the Macquarie Island region until I read the tweet so first thing I had to do was locate it on google maps to see if I needed to be worried.  Turns out its southeast of New Zealand and part of a volcanic ridge that appears to extend north of New Zealand to the Solomon Islands, which were also hit 42 minutes ago. The Solomon Islands have in fact been hammered this week with earthquakes including two on Monday that registered 6.6 and 7.2.  Since I am in California,  I am pretty sure these quakes don't pose any immediate threat to me. Of course, now that I am moderately acquainted with the relation of earthquakes to tsunamis, I still need to investigate how far a tsunami can travel.

Also this week the South Sandwich Island region was hammered by a major quake registering 6.7. I had to google map that as well. Its southeast of South America and by my amateur assessment seems to be a relatively equal distance from Antartica as are the Solomon Islands.  Both seem situated along the demarcation where the Antartica plate rubs up against other adjoining plates.

Closer to home, California has been daily belching modest sized quakes in the 2 to 3.0 range for as long as I have been following the QuakeInfo tweets. On the one hand, a 2-3 level earthquake hardly seems worth mentioning, but then I googled how much energy is released by quakes this size and was shocked to discover that the energy released from a 2.0 quake is equivalent to 1 ton of TNT and a 3.0 quake yields the bang of 29 tons of TNT.  The power of a 3.0 earthquake is perhaps best appreciated by the fact that the blast set by terrorist Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma on April 19, 1995  measured approximately 3.0 on the Richter scale and destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killed 168 victims,  injured more than 680 people, and destroyed or damaged hundreds and hundreds of buildings as far away as sixteen blocks.

I should unfollow QuakeInfo and go back to my prior state of ignorant bliss, but knowledge is addictive. The more you have, the more you crave.

No comments:

Post a Comment